Sunday, January 30, 2011


This past weekend was our annual trek to Daytona Beach, FL for the Rolex 24 Hour car race.....really it's a guy thing but according to 'the husband' I am not exempt from attending.

We've been following the Flying Lizards race team (why that name?? who knows??)......for ages. There was high hopes for their entry this year. The race is grueling on both man and it runs 24 hours straight. The first car across the start/finish line after 24 hours,'s as simple and difficult as that.

This is the sure looks impressive to me. Sadly, it blew up less than an hour before the end of the race......probably ruined the car too since it caught on fire. Thankfully, the driver got out okay. There were many Porsches in the winners circle....just not this one.

Each year we notice more and more 'branding'.....sponsors of everything from the race itself to parking lots. Can you believe it?? The parking lot and camp grounds need a sponsor? ENUFF!!!

And one sponsor isn't enough......there seems to be a lot of partnering too.

How can anyone have any loyalty with so many to choose from??

We noticed far fewer massive motor homes this year and tons more tents. Many huge fields that had been used for parking in the past were turned into tent far as the eye could see. Preparation in this photo is pits are dug, supplies laid out. Sadly, when we walked through this same area the next morning......much of it was disgusting.....full of trash, and sleeping bodies. I'm sure the track officials will be rethinking their decision.....many of these attendees are not race fans, rather they are party goers.

Someone brought a Christmas tree.....fitted with lights and apparently beer cans will be added as they are emptied.

Now this WAS impressive.......look at the size of this was in the more upscale motor home area.

Hey.....a Green Bay Packer fan! I might mention......I'm beginning my 7 day countdown to Super Bowl Sunday.....when the Pack will be crowned 2011 Champs!!! GO PACKERS......

There are all kinds of activity going on before and during the race. This artist was painting an original work of art (car art I guess you'd call it)......he painted quickly with buckets of paint and large brushes along with blaring rock music.

And for those of you who've followed my blog for a long I didn't see Dr. McDreamy in person this year....though he was there and was pictured on the jumbo TV screens several times.....his race team's car actually finished the race this year.

Now back to sewing.....

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I've mentioned my quest to find homes for many of my show quilts and pieces that have been published in my various books. Happily, some are already being enjoyed, instead of being folded up in my pie safe and other storage places in our home.

Recently, someone who has traveled with me on several of my quilting cruises, and who I now call a friend, expressed interest in the 'cover' quilt of my DVD.

The quilt utilizes batik fabrics, reverse applique, machine quilting and lots of beading.
Like most authors, I never considered selling a quilt that was so prominently featured, but after some seemed so right that Joyce add this piece to her butterfly collection! the 'Fluttering By' has flown off and will be enjoying mile high living! I couldn't be more pleased.

If there is a quilt in my collection.....that you'd like in YOUR collection......don't hesitate to email me to discuss the possibility.....prices are competive and fair.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Fiber Junkie member Val, presented this unique journal, 2011 Leaf & Lizard Almanac, to each of us in our group. It was created by her friend Mary can obtain your own journal at:

It's a moon journal, intended to keep one attuned to the natural cycles of the moon and seasons. It's a fun concept, designed to provide the owner permission to personalize the book.....using the scrapbook approach. Click on the photo to enlarge her words.

Val shared her journal with us....and I'm sorry I didn't snap a photo......she included many drawings, photos, and notes as she works her way through her 2010 book.

Asheville is filled with artists of all mediums......sometimes as a quilter, I don't stray far enough from my comfortable world of getting introduced to the work of others is so appreciated.....thank you Val!


I've continued to plug away on my construction project......

The background of this small wall hanging is hand-dyed felted wool, while both 80/20 rayon/wool woolfelt and bamboo/rayon felt are being utilized for the 'houses'. I'm fairly satisfied with the color arrangement and shapes.....

My attention now turned to the 3 trees that will be incorporated into the design. After auditioning every green/gold/red wool felt fabric I had in my stash, nothing worked. I turned to other materials....first looking for the right color and secondly for something that would provide more texture.

During one of the dye sessions with the Fiber Junkies.....I dyed some gray cheesecloth which yielded this mottled green.

By fusing two layers together....the fabric became sturdier and prevented the edges from unraveling once the tree shapes were cut.

But, while trying to convince myself this was the answer I was seeking......I dug further in my stash and found a couple more choices.

My friend Nancy Bruce gave me this's a 100% wool hounds tooth that she hand dyed....but it's not felted. The quality of some wools are just too high and therefore they will not felt. Of course that fabric is still suitable to use, but it will ravel so the edges must be secured.

Okay....I like this much better..... Thank you Nancy!!! The next decision will be to hand or machine applique the houses......


After the necessary Green Bay Packer reports (interruptions to some)'s more show and tell from our January Fiber Junkie's meeting.

We generally gather in each other's homes, but this time we met at a restaurant to make the drive time for all of us, who are spread out in every direction from Asheville, more convenient. The purpose of this meeting was to organize/plan for the upcoming year. We set our goals based on the techniques/skills we wanted to learn/share from each other. It's going to be another year of expanding our knowledge and having fun with like minded, committed quilters.

Here Patsy Thompson shows us her latest masterpiece. She's been having such fun working with the Sizzix Big Shot, quickly and accurately cutting fabulous designs utilizing this tool.

See her tutorial here.

Judy Simmons has been spending time lately creating small's a great way to try out new techniques and design ideas. The main section of this piece came from her recent 'mushroom' series, made using deconstructed screen printing.

Carol Sloan loves making small pouches/journals etc. and often combines her whimsy drawing skills, fabric paints, and machine stitching.

I admired the beaded edging she has featured at the top of this pouch......

If you don't belong to a small fiber group, I encourage you to start one. We all know quilters we ahead and connect with several to start your own mini group where ideas and support are the focus.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Sorry to keep this celebration going.....I can't help myself!!!

We are going to the Super Bowl......though beating the Bears in Chicago for the NFC Championship was a completely satisfying win no matter what.

I really do have some quilt related posts set to you....hang in there....they are coming....

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Oh my.......what a game.....our butts barely hit our couch, we were up and down and up and down jumping for joy and pacing out of nervousness......

Hooray.......the Packers are headed for the Super Bowl......looks like they will be playing the Steelers.....which will be a challenge.

For those of you who cheered our team along....thank you......sorry Bear fans.....


Here's our boy....Aaron Rogers who will be taking the Green and Gold to the Super Bowl......the entire state of Wisconsin and Packer fans everywhere will be glued to their TV's today at 3:00 EST.....

Click here to see just a sampling of how far Wisconsin Packer fans will go to honor their team. I truly can't top Kay Sorensen's son's Packer shrine!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


The Fiber Junkies begin their 2nd full year of determination to expand our knowledge by sharing our skills and learning together.

This post, as often happens when I report on the doings of our group.....will be dedicated to the work of one very active member. Nancy Bruce.....who is fearless in her quest to experiment and find easier and better ways to achieve results.

She recently took a lengthy workshop at the John C. Campbell Folk School. The focus was embossing/printing fabrics with designs using various methods. Nancy brought non-decrepit beret, a thrift sale find, that she dyed from its original plain color. Then it was dyed again to this wonderful rich eggplant color and now features a ginkgo leaf design.

The process involves using a resist.... wood blocks are clamped onto the beret before submerging it into boiling dye for (I think) about 30-45 mins. The block of wood 'resisted' the dye, allowing the design shape to remain visible.

She also worked with other fabrics and other mediums. This began life as a sleeve from a pink silk blouse..... I LOVE the results....

Nancy rolled the fabric around a chunk of petrified cactus....and tied with string (or rubber bands can be used)....whics acts as the resist for the dye.

Here she clamped a wood block leaf onto a piece of wool....the black outline comes from oil that the instructor uses on her clamps to keep them from rusting. Somehow it pooled around the shape.

Other designs Nancy created using different shapes and items as her resist......think of this as shibori dyeing.

And this final one......using some sort of bean/s trapped by rubber bands/string for the dyeing process.

More show and tell soon from the rest of the members.

But before I go......1. 2. 3. ------- GO PACKERS!!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011


Despite the less than satisfactory results of my first attempt making Tartine artisan bread, I've forged ahead and tried again.

I used some of my original starter to begin the first stage of making bread dough by mixing it with equal parts of water and flour. This time I marked a line on my bowl to better judge how much it rose overnight....the goal was expansion about 20-30%. (This is where I thought my first batch went didn't rise enough.) Well......I was pleased when I peaked under the dish towel covering the dough the next morning!

A portion of this mixture is saved and becomes the mature starter for future batches and some is used as the leavening in the bread dough. It's mixed with specific weighed amounts of warm water, flour, and salt. This recipe makes a fairly soft, wet dough, not at all what I'm familiar working with. This dough rises for a minimum of 3-4 hours.....turning it in the bowl every 30 minutes.

Now the dough has again about doubled in size and goes through a series of resting & folding on a lightly floured board.

Then it rises again for about 4 more hours.....but it could take up to 12 hours in the refrigerator, in a flour dusted towel lined bowl.....hey, did I mention this takes days to make??

Now it's ready to bake......

The dough is transferred to a HOT, HOT cast iron dutch oven that has been heated to 500 degrees. Baked, covered for 20 mins. and another 20 mins. with the cover off. Here it is, right out of the oven. I wish there was a way to provide a scratch and sniff dot for you.......

As it could hear the crust crackling......

Now the test.....cutting it. Well...the real test was eating it and I can report it is/was delicious.....however I still have to refine my procedures.

The uncooked dough is to be scored once it's in the hot pan....these cuts allow the dough to split so the built up steam can escape. I need to get a scalpel or other such tool to do that. My thinnest, sharpest knife just didn't work well, so instead of a lot of uneven holes in the bread, I got one or two big ones at the top. If you look closely you can see a big hole between the crust and the body of the bread.

Oh dear.....I'll just have to try again and we'll have to consume some more hot out of the oven artisan bread.....just for comparison you know!

Time is drawing near............remember dear readers........say it with me.....GO PACKERS!!!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Okay, I know this isn't much to show or to provide inspiration for you faithful readers.....but life has been filled with so many interruptions over the last 2 months, mostly mundane....keeping me away from what I love to do best....CREATE.

Houses have been on my the hope of an early spring (hope so....everyone here is sick of winter). We've had the itch to build another house for the last two years....though our home is lovely with a great view, it's really too big for us (in the wrong places) and the garage space is too small for 'the husband'. Men need space to tinker....or they invade our spaces!

Like the rest of the country, area homes are not selling quickly and values have dropped to the point that moving may not be realistic. However, our little subdivision is doing really well.....lots have been sold and several new houses are under construction, which bodes well for us. So....the itch has come back.....and perhaps if nothing else....I can scratch it by building this wall quilt.

Since my passion for wool felt hasn't yet been satisfied.....I will again be working with that medium. This is a piece I dyed with the aid of our small Fiber Junkies group last fall. Once fabric has been dyed....I like to put a note on it reminding me of the fiber content (National Nonwovens Woolfelt 80/20)...and when I dyed it....Sept. 2010.

Here's my palette.....I said there wasn't too much to get excited about just now. I'm hoping that the home project 'the husband' is tackling in my studio (for my benefit) will be completed quickly, early this afternoon, so I can get working again. But, you know how those things usually requires 2 separate trips to Lowe's.....and many bad words uttered under one's breath!

I'll keep you posted.....

Is it too soon to say.....GO PACKERS!!!!! Well....I've said it.....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


'The perfect child' and his wife live in San Francisco. Nearby their house is Tartine the BEST bakery ever! I've had delicious bread in the past......and am an experienced bread baker.....but theirs beats them all.

The kids gave us this cookbook for Christmas.....I've read every word.....twice or more. It's written in a conversational style...ala some of James Beard's cookbooks. It spins tales of how he and his wife became bakers, which was surprisingly interesting.

Additionally, learning his reasoning behind their specific approach to bread baking aided in the over all understanding of his process....which I might add is long with lots and lots of steps.

Mary's starter day 2

That's because their process involves working with a're all familiar with a sour dough starters I'm sure. Well, this is similar but instead of achieving a vinegar/sour starter, their goal is to create one that is more like the sweet/sour smell/taste of overripe fruit.

It involves mixing warm water and flour (1/2 white & 1/2 whole wheat) ferments at room temperature until carbon dioxide bubbles form from the natural yeasts and bacteria in the air. These 'bubbles' are what makes the bread commercial yeast is used.

This takes several the 'starter' is trained to reliably rise after it's fed.....each day 80% of the starter is discarded and new water/flour is added.

More time passes.....when it's finally 'ready' begin more discarding and feeding, then resting, while what is now dough, begins to slowly rise. Next there's more folding of the dough in very prescribed movements, more resting and rising. (Which is not that much different from Julia Child's french bread making) Seriously....this can not be accomplished in a day unless you begin at crack o'dawn.

When ya think it's ready to be's deposited in a dutch oven pan that has been heated to 500 degrees and covered during the first half of the baking period. The idea here is that this very wet dough's moisture escapes as it quickly rises......the steam is trapped in the baking container....keeping it moist. The bread purchased from their bakery has large uneven holes in the center while the outside is crisp....and the flavor is out of this world.

After the half-way point in the baking, the lid is removed and it continue to bake to crisp the crust.
Now....what looks like a pretty good looking loaf of bread is not what it appears. It was probably about half the height it should have achieved. However, the taste was good....that is after ripping it apart since cutting it was nearly impossible because it was almost as hard as a hockey puck.

I know what I did wrong...I rushed it. 'The husband's' daily or twice daily question..."When are we going to have bread", made me not listen to my past experience. Actually, the starter was fine, but the starter dough, as it began the process of making bread, wasn't quite ready....I should have stopped then, but I thought I could coach it along.....NOT.

Like I said, I'm a very experienced bread baking and had a traditional starter that I kept going for years......however, the recipes I used were often aided by yeast as well. This one uses only the the moral of this story........Mary is trying to learn patience.

I'm back to feeding my starter to make it more reliable before I tackle another loaf. But, I see this as a really good snack during game time on Sunday.

What game you ask?? Clearly you aren't reading this blog enough?!?!

I will get back to sewing posts shortly. I've been preoccupied with making bread, bead kits for my upcoming teaching trips, as well as taking some pencil to paper for my next project.....both activities are nearly complete.